on April 25, 2004
We visited Lajoie Stables on the first full day of our stay at Smuggler's Notch. We had so much fun, we went back every day we could during our stay.
The first time we visited we did a trail ride. The trail ride was really fun and exciting for the kids--with enough hills, valleys, and trees to make it challenging, but still safe and easy for beginners. My two children (ages seven and eight) had never ridden by themselves before; they had done pony rides in which they were led around a ring. They had so much fun during their trail ride that we went back for three more visits during our stay for horseback riding lessons.
The kids made great progress during their lessons and gained a lot of confidence and skill. They adored their instructor and trial leader, Amanda, who is the daughter of the owner of the stable. Amanda was an excellent teacher and guide for children. She provided positive rewards and recognition when they showed progress and also was firm in her expectations and requirements. Safety was an utmost concern for the stable owners. During our visits, my youngest daughter, by chance, had a couple of dramatic situations that reinforced the need for safety with horses. The first time she panicked when she took a corner too sharp. The second time was when a thoroughbred near to the horse she was trying to mount reared up and spooked the other horses in the stable. In both cases, Amanda reacted quickly plucked my daughter from the saddle and safely got her away from the horses.
Lajoie Stables offers:
Rates are reasonable. The stable is open year round. Call ahead for an appointment. Summer rates are lower than winter/spring rates.
The atmosphere at the stable is relaxed, suitable for leisure and recreational riding for a beginner or intermediate. Equipment seems to be for everyday, not show purposes. A more demanding or experienced equestrian might want to call ahead to inquire about their specific needs for equipment or horses. One rider was there while we were there to practice jumping on a thoroughbred, so it may be that riders of every level can be satisfied. Since I have little to no horse experience, I don't want to make a recommendation for riders at an accomplished level.
For the average, recreational rider, I highly recommend this stable. Lajoie was very friendly and welcoming. We were pretty much brought into the fold during our visits. Our girls were allowed to help out around the stable after lessons, brushing their horses or watching the ferrier shoe horses. We spent hours hanging out after lessons and got to know the owners quite well. We found them to be authentic, caring, hearty souls committed to the quality, safety, and sport of horseback riding.
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